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Rocker Panel Replacement; Engine in or out?

LanceLyon

Jedi Hopeful
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My BJ7 frame restoration is nearly complete, and everything is installed except for the rocker panels.

I am at a bit of a crossroad. I've heard that to properly align the rockers that the engine and drive train should be installed. My problem is that I think I should paint the frame before installing the wire harness and all of the running gear before installing the engine. To do this, I would end up welding parts onto a newly painted frame! I,m sure that at the factory the engines were installed after the body was assembled, so how would you account for this?

I'd like to assemble everything onto the frame and then paint it before installing the drive train and engine, and then lastly the outer body parts, but would hate to then be in a position to have to start cutting things away to get everything to fit. HELP! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/confused.gif

Any brave souls out there who have taken the chance and been successfull (or unsuccessfull)??
 

Dave Russell

Yoda - R.I.P
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I think the best way is to complete the underbody/structural work including paint, install the drive train, running gear, & finally paint/install the outer body panels as you suggest. A few cautious souls have loaded the frame with sandbags to simulate the drivetrain during underbody/frame construction.

Unless the under body is structurally weak from unrepaired rust damage, there should be no dimensional changes with drive train in or out. You are correct, the bodies were originally fully assembled with paint at Jensen & the drive trains & running gear installed at Longbridge & later Abingdon.

My personal opinion only. I'm sure you will get some suggestions. Here is a pretty good assembly sequence: https://www.acmefluid.com.au/larry/
D
 
OP
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LanceLyon

Jedi Hopeful
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Thanks, Dave. You give me the confidence to move ahead as I would hope! The link you suggested is something that I have already studied, and although I have learned through necessity some of the techniques the author describes, when I get to the body work I am certain that I will learn even more. The joys of learning as you go!

I feel as though my frame and inner body will look like a patchwork quilt with all of the repairs, and wonder if I should feel embarassed about it! How much can be hidden with body caulk I will soon find out.

I wish I had a web site to be able to post more than just one photo at a time! A picture is worth a thousand words, and I think I could get some valuable suggestions if only I could show rather than describe where I am at.

Thanks again, and anyone else who has some thoughts, please chime in!
 
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This was extensively discussed on the Healey mailing list a couple of years ago- in mid-February 2002. You may be able to dig it, and other discussion relevant to rocker panels, fenders, etc. out from their archives at:

https://www.team.net/archive/healeys

As I recall, the discussion centered on the term "Door Gaps" and you might have the most success using that term if you search for those exchanges.

More information about the mailing list may be found at:

https://www.team.net/tn-mail.html

The general conclusions were that a healthy frame and inner body would not be affected by the drivetrain and that body panels could be installed without undue worry. This was not universal however and there were a number of people that asserted that the best approach was to set the engine & trans. in place first.

I suspect that the recommendations follow from bodywork done on cars with less than fully healthy frames that did flex under these loads.

It would be useful to hear of anyone that used a new or healthy frame who found that it subsequently flexed and made the bodywork alignment incorrect. I have more than a pssing personal interest too.
 

Keoke

Great Pumpkin
Country flag
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Well I will Chime in LL . In those places where the repairs are higly visible I would lead them over if you know how to lead.---Fwiw--Keoke
 

Dave Russell

Yoda - R.I.P
Gold
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If you don't wish to lead, John L. came up with some very good seam sealer. 3M 'Fast n' Firm works very well. Not quite as perfect as lead would be, but much easier to work with. Sort of in the same category as "Fusor" panel bond adhesives vs welding.
D
 

Cutlass

Jedi Warrior
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I'm a year an a half into my BJ8 project, and have faced the same issues. Here's the way I did it, for whatever it's worth:

1. Accomplished all frame and chassis repairs except rockers on a rotisserie, after media blasting chassis.

2. Installed suspension, engine, transmission and all doors and body panels.

3. Took entire car to the body shop that will do all paint, and had them check and adjust frame alignment and install rockers.

4. Disassembled entire car again back at home, and took chassis back to body shop for final paint.

5. Plan is to assemble rolling chassis, with wiring and plumbing, to take back to body shop for final fitting of body, doors, etc. for final paint.

My reasons for this rather involved process are many. First, I, like you, had to do a lot of frame repair. I was careful to cut back to apparently good metal before adding new parts or repairing existing parts, and I did add some of the frame and motor mount reinforcing apparently used in the racing cars. But the nature of the beast prevents accurate assessment of frame rails that are surely rusted to some extent. The result of this is that I could not be assured of a no-sag frame. Not only that, but with all the moving around of the chassis while cutting and welding, because I had no jigs, I could not be assured that there was no induced twisting as a result of the repair process. The intended result is a body which fits, with acceptable door, hood and trunk gaps. By letting the body guy who will be actually lining things up for final color get involved at an early stage, the risk of having body panels and doors not fit, and learning that after the chassis is painted, is reduced. Frame sag may or may not have been a problem, but finding it out after final paint is a problem to be avoided. I know this sounds elaborate, but putting in the engine, trans, etc and loose attaching the body only takes about one day. I think it was worth it. We'll see.
 

Keoke

Great Pumpkin
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My experience with these cars says "U" are just about right Cutlass.---Keoke /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/yesnod.gif
 
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LanceLyon

Jedi Hopeful
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Well, I'm afraid that all that work is not what I wanted to hear, but that's exactly the kind of input I was looking for!

I realize that for each question that is asked, I'll get a number of opinions and answers. It will be my decision to sort out what seems reasonable. After listening to all of the input, it seems that a reasonable thing to do will be to partially assemble the wings and the doors without the engine and transmission, and then load a bunch of my stout friends into the car and see how much deflection I get. My course of action from that point on will reflect the amount of that deflection.

Thanks again for everyone's help. I'll post a follow up to this post to tell you all how it comes out!
 
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cutlass,i concur with you,ive lurned that these cars were assembled [all of the boby stuff first]then transported to another location for engine and trans.thats great when the chassis is brandy spankin new and the jigs for the assembly were most probably adjusted to compensate for the future average sag of the eng.and trans.but as you say when workin with and having to modify even a slightly rusted frame without the benifit of a gig,well i thing you did very a good thing.anthony7777 1963 bj7 3000 M.K.II /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/hammer.gif
 
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[ QUOTE ]
...thats great when the chassis is brandy spankin new and the jigs for the assembly were most probably adjusted to compensate for the future average sag of the eng.and trans.but as you say when workin with and having to modify even a slightly rusted frame ....

[/ QUOTE ]

This raises the interesting proposition that someone could measure the gaps, etc. AFTER having pulled an engine and could then more accuratelyy describe the effect of having that weight in place.

Has anyone ever done that- or simply noticed the gaps change?
 
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james wilson,ive had occation to pull eng.and trans from these cars,they were either very solid or having other tasks on my mind i never noticed a dif. in the panel fit with the drive train componets refited they looked the same,having said that this work was done in the late 60's early 70,s befor bad oxidation had an opportunity to work its magic,also i never had these parts out long enough for the frames etc.to realy 'spring' back to thier pre engine install positions as when new.if thats possible at all? /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/driving.gif
 
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Thanks- that's very useful information for me. As you can see below I've a new chassis to which I'm now in the process of welding innerbody parts. This question about doing work with the engine in/out has bothered me a little and I thought that the weight of opinion as it applies to this project made the "out" option reasonably safe, and this is a little more confirmation. I appreciate it. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/yesnod.gif
 
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jameswilson,glad to hear i was of some benifit to you,when you say that you have a new chassis,do you mean a 'brandy spankin' new one?a different but used one?or what? and isnt that a bj7 as is mine? /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cheers.gif
 
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Its new and unused, though not "brand" new. I bought it "second-hand" from someone who had bought it then decided they could fix their old frame after all.

I guess one of the few benefits of taking forever to do the work is being able to pick up some items a little more cheaply. I got it for about 1/2 the full price. The primer was old looking and there was a little surface rust, but I had it sand blasted and painted with anti-rust primer. I've had to wire-wheel some of that off to do my welding but I'm pretty comfortable thinking its solid and straight.

I think that the front of the chassis is the same for all the 6 cylinder Healeys and only the backs changed for the BJ8s. My Haynes manual has a chassis diagram for the BN4 through BJ7 cars, and as far as I can tell from my measurements the BJ8s are the same as the earlier ones until you get to the dip under the rear axle for the phase 2 ones (and the radius arms but no Panhard rod). But I've looked closely at three BJ8 chassis/inner bodies and found minor differences even between them. This is a BJ8 Ph 2 chassis.

Here's a photo that shows the differences better:

innersillsweldedfs.jpg


The chassis is upside down. I've welded brackets for a rear anti-sway bar and the inner sills to it. You might also be just able to see that I modified the front outriggers by closing up their ends by 3/8 of an inch to meet the sill and not leave a gap. I then turned the chassis rightside up and I'm now in the process of attaching the scuttle and all the rest of it. I kind of hope to finish everything but the "A" and "B" pillars by the end of November, take a couple of weeks "off" from the Healey, and then during the time I get off the day job at Christmas/New Years try to put a full time week in on it. I have kind of a target of getting that done so I could send it to have the exterior painted during Jan/Feb when I suspect the paint & body shops may have less work.

The signature picture below is before the blasting & priming, the one above is after it so it looks newer....
 

John Loftus

Darth Vader
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James, your picture is showing up very dark on my monitor so I took the liberty to tweak it a bit .. the frame is looking very good, btw!

innersillsweldedfs.jpg
 

roscoe

Jedi Knight
Silver
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One more story, if you can stand it. I replaced my sills, rockers and rear door pillars with no drive train installed. The drive train was out but the car was rollable. I used the front and rear fenders (buttoned up to the rear shroud which was fastened in the rear and at the cockpit) to check the door gaps. I spent time measuring the old parts before I cut them out. Now I am fitting the body panels with the drive train installed. I am having the typical experience of having things not fit too well when first assembled, but then by working here and there, getting the fit to improve to the point where I'm quite happy with what I've done (I do have to admit I'll probably wear out the door hinge screws by the time I'm done). I figured that with the two shroud sections installed firmly it pretty much sets the placement of the fenders, which in turn have to wrap around the forward and aft door pillars and be screwed in place. It is my opinion that we would more likely see bulges or dimples in the fenders or shrouds if there was significant frame sag. I'm not seeing that. As one guy I know (who did far more extensive frame repairs than I had to) said, "even if you simply take all the body panels off, and put them back on it seems that nothing fits". You just have to work it.

Jon
 
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james willson,half price?well done,ive been thinking about how much time the mechanics on the assembly line actually had to massage all the boby work?they had to have some sort of a base line to start from i.e.the 'a' pillar or from inner fender panels,firewall line,etc. its not as if they were biulding them like they did the older rolls royces,this was an assembly line,it had to be expeditious,no time for mucking about here! if the assembly required a significant amount of tweeking theyd still be building my 63 bj7 for goodnes sake!how did they do it?i wonder if any of those guys and gales are still with us?they could offer tramendous insight!might be an interesting project to start,boy i could use a vacation! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cheers.gif
 

Dave Russell

Yoda - R.I.P
Gold
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[ QUOTE ]
If the assembly required a significant amount of tweeking theyd still be building my 63 bj7 for goodness sake! How did they do it? I wonder if any of those guys and gals are still with us? They could offer tremendous insight! Might be an interesting project to start,boy I could use a vacation! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cheers.gif

[/ QUOTE ]
The most common explanation is that no two panels were stamped with exactly the same dimensions & shape. The assemblers would select, by trial & error & or measuring, from piles of panels to find one that best fit the particular car they were assembling. Skillful light bending & minimal panel working would allow a pretty good fit. Then on to the next panel. If you precisely compare panel dimensions & contours on two original cars, there will usually be noticeable differences. They must have ended up with a considerable number of extra panels that didn't fit anything. This is also why new replacement panels, which have more uniform dimensions, seldom perfectly fit the car you are working on. The originals were all different sizes.
D
 
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